2 cups bechamel sauce
6 eggs, yolks and whites separated
1 1/2 -2 cups sharp cheese or blend of cheeses
Starting with the bechamel sauce.
3 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons flour
2 cups milk
salt and pepper to taste
pinch of ground nutmeg
Melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat.
When the foaming stops, whisk in the flour and stir to form a roux.
Cook the roux, for a minute, stirring the whole time. This cooks out the raw flour taste.
Add the milk and keep whisking, raising the heat until the sauce thickens or just until it boils which. It's at its thickest just before boiling, but you won't hurt anything if it comes to a boil. Season to taste, remembering you'll be adding cheese and eggs. Melt the cheese into the sauce and set aside to cool.
Heat the oven to 375 and set the rack to the middle of the oven.
Rub the inside of individual six 8 oz ramekins with butter. Add about a tablespoon of grated parmesan to the ramekin and tilt the ramekin so that the parmesan sticks to the butter. Pour the excess parmesan into next ramekin and repeat adding more grated parmesan as needed.
Confession, I had my daughter do this step and she used cheddar on my microplane grater. This doesn't work as well for coating the ramekins but it still made a pretty good souffle. And she'll remember the parmesan next time. Arrange the ramekins on a baking sheet.
Separate the eggs. If you're new to separating eggs, it's wise to separate into a bowl one egg at a time. So if you get some yolk in the white, it only messes up one egg white, not all of them. Discard that one and try again.
Don't worry if you break one or more yolks. It's just fine.
In a metal bowl, beat the egg whites to stiff peaks. Plastic bowls tend to have a light oil film which inhibits the whites from whipping as nice or as high. Glass bowls are fine to use too.
Beat the yolks. If the cheese sauce is still hot, you'll have to temper the yolks so they don't cook as you combine them with the cheese sauce. Temper the yolks by adding small amounts of the cheese sauce to the eggs while you mix. Continue until you've doubled the volume of the yolk mixture, then add the rest of the sauce and yolk mix and stir to combine. If the cheese sauce is just warm, you can just stir the yolks right into the sauce.
I just picked up some of the hot cheese sauce on the whisk and whisked to start tempering the yolks.
Need a bigger bowl. Didn't think ahead on that one. Continue adding cheese sauce in small amounts and whisking.
And then you're done combining the yolks and sauce.
Fold half the whites into the yolk and cheese mixture. This lightens the mix and makes it easier to fold in the last half of the whites with the least loss of volume.
Then repeat with the last half of the yolk mixture. Don't stir or whisk as you'll deflate your whites. Don't worry if the final souffle batter is not perfectly mixed. A few white splotches in the batter is better than deflated whites.
All mixed up and ready to pour into the ramekins. Notice there are still swirls of lighter and darker areas. No need to overmix.
Pour the batter eveinly into the prepare ramekins. As I'm cooking for five not six, I'm using a larger ramekin and will cook it slightly longer.
Bake for 20-25 minutes. They'll still have some jiggle. Below they're all finished. Notice they rose about 2 1/2 inches.
Serve immediately. They deflate quickly.
Went a hair too long so it's a bit darker on top than is ideal, but still a very good souffle.
The ratios in a souffle are actually fairly easy to adapt up and down for different servings. 1 egg, 1/4 cup bechamel 1/4 cup cheese and you're there for a single souffle.